During a ceremony in Standing Stone State Park Sept. 21, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen announced the state will go forward with recommendations recently submitted to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) by the Corridor J Citizens Resource Team (CRT).
The CRT was charged with studying possible locations for the final link in Appalachian Corridor J.
Corridor J is a north-south route which begins in Chattanooga and ends at the Kentucky state line. The final link will complete the section of Corridor J from State Route 111 near Algood and State Route 56.
The CRT recommended the department use the following corridor locations for the completion of Corridor J:
• SR 111, Overton and Pickett counties — from south of Livingston along the existing SR-111 Livingston bypass to the Kentucky state line
• SR 52, Overton and Clay counties — from Livingston to Celina
• SR 56 and SR 53, Putnam, Jackson and Clay counties — from I-40 interchange in Baxter to the Kentucky state line.
“The members of this multi-county resource team gave a tremendous amount of their time working with the TDOT staff on the many complicated issues involved in completing this final section of Appalachian Corridor J,” said Bredesen. “The results of this project to link Celina to the interstate will enhance the economic and community development of this region of our state. I appreciate all the hard work and consideration those working on this project put into making it come together.”
“The recommendations of the resource team were well thought out,” said Nicely. “Upon careful consideration, we decided that Corridor J will follow State Route 111 from Algood to State Route 52 in Livingston. That section is currently a four-lane facility and needs no improvement. From that point Corridor J will follow State Route 52 from Livingston to State Route 53 in Celina. This route fulfills the mission of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and it also fulfills the Department’s goal of connecting the county seat of Celina to Interstate 40.”
In the spring of 2003, Bredesen and Nicely targeted 15 of the state’s most controversial road projects for re-consideration, including the Corridor J project, and requested that they be studied by the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research. As a result of the study, TDOT initiated a process called Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). CSS is an approach that involves all stakeholders in recommending a transportation facility. The CSS approach considers many factors, including safety, mobility, community impacts, aesthetics and the environment.
In October 2003, TDOT announced it would move forward with the Appalachian Corridor J project after a full study involving local citizens from a multi-county area using the CSS method. A CRT with members representing Clay, Jackson, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White Counties assisted the Department in studying routes from a regional perspective. The CRT and the TDOT project team worked diligently together to determine which corridors would provide lasting economic benefit to the Appalachian region in Middle Tennessee.
“We want to thank the Citizens Resource Team members for their dedication during this long and sometimes difficult process,” said Nicely. “This project was made more complicated because it involves six counties, and the resource team is to be commended for its willingness to think regionally in identifying possible routes for Appalachian Corridor J.”
Currently, SR-111 is already a 4-lane highway, so it requires no improvement. The ARC will contribute funds of approximately $93 million on 9.7 miles of the improvement. The portion of SR-52 from SR-53 in Clay County to SR-136 in Overton County is already designed and is ready for the right-of-way phase. Construction on a portion of the route could begin as early as two years. Funding identified in the 2006 budget will allow the Department to advance the project once a location decision has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration and the ARC.
In addition to the Corridor J project, the routes of SR-111 to Byrdstown and SR-56 to Gainesboro may be considered in the TDOT County Seat Connection Program.
“Completion of Appalachian Corridor J is a major initiative of the Department,” says Nicely. “Corridor J will provide transportation infrastructure to support and enhance the economic opportunities in the region. We owe our gratitude to the people who invested their time in this effort for the sake of their community.”
The other TDOT projects involving citizens’ resource teams include:
• State Route 126 Kingsport
• State Route 475/Knoxville Parkway
• State Route 28 South/US 127
• State Route 28 North/US127
• State Route 357 Extension
• State Route 397/Mack Hatcher Parkway
• State Route 840 South.